Weather Journal gains an exciting new feature today — a radar display, provided by Weather Central, utilizing Bing maps. I wrote rather extensively about it in today’s Weather Journal column, linked here. You can find a small version of the radar display permanently inset on the right margin of the blog. Here’s a very brief tutorial. By clicking on the Radar /Futurecast label above this display, a much larger display comes up that has several features. In the upper left are buttons for “Radar,” “Futurecast” and “Alerts.” Directional controls below these buttons allow you to move the display anywhere you want to see, in our region or elsewhere in the nation, zoom in to your neighborhood or zoom out to the entire continental United States. The magnifying glass in the upper right allows you to pick a location, even to a specific address, upon which to anchor the radar view. The “?” is just what you think, answering numerous questions and providing a much more in-depth tutorial than I am providing here. The four-arrows icon in the upper right expands the radar to cover your screen. Beneath these icons is a control to animate the radar or futurecast, and below that an expandable “Options” menu that has many different choices of what can be seen and animated on the display. One particularly useful item is the “Storm Cells” option, that places an icon on individual storm cells on radar, indicating whether they are likely to contain heavy rain, hail or high winds (or even a possible tornado), and by clicking on each storm cell, it will show you direction of movement and expected arrival times at given locations. The best way to learn how to use it is to do what I’ve been doing a few days, just play around with the features yourself. I will say in advance that the “Futurecast” is a handy little feature, but represents only one computer-generated scenario for what the weather will do in advance — and there will be times that I or the National Weather Service or other forecast entities see it a little differently.
There will probably be just a few showers and storms for the radar to pick up in our region today through Friday, as a very summerlike pattern again sets up. Highs in the 80s to possibly some low 90s will occur each of the next three days, with that heat cooking up just a few scattered showers and storms in the afternoon, most numerous in the mountainous areas west of Roanoke. This is much like the weather we commonly see in July. It still appears likely we see a sharp reversal to cooler temperatures for a few days next week.